If I had thought to make a prediction for today, I would have said a quarter, a quarter, a quarter and a quarter: even Stevens.
Shelved, for now, are proposals floated by the mayor since May that include a tax on hospital bills, a surcharge on all-day parkers in public lots, and a hike in the water rates charged to educational and medical customers. (P-G, Rich Lord)
Instead, a 1% tax on college tuitions is to cover the whole thing.
And the sweetener?
The tuition tax would raise around $16 million a year. Of that, $15 million would cover increased payments to the city's limping pension fund and capital needs, required by its recovery plan under state Act 47. The balance would become a dedicated, annual payment to the Carnegie Library system, which faces a budget deficit that has prompted plans to close four city libraries, merge two others, and move yet another. (ibid)
Of the four, this one was never my favorite -- perhaps because it was the easiest political lift. It won't overjoy our universities, yet it will fail to engage our hospitals, medical centers, insurers and most other nonprofits. The pain will be nicely segregated from "average" Pittsburghers. This will be interpreted as what it is, a tax on students: a transient, ill-informed, half-engaged "them" (including their unwitting parents) who most voters probably will be happy to see taxed. Just as they were content to see them get "handled" after the G20.
Shrewd? Absolutely, terribly, perfectly. Fair? I'm not certain we will be having that discussion.
Meanwhile, the non-profits as a group will be left unfettered, making the recent anticipation of divergent viewpoints between Mayor Ravenstahl and County Executive Onorato or a gold rush by the both of them very moot. Neither want to address the elephant in the region, period.
*-UPDATE: It's too bad ledes like this never quite make it to print:
Calling it "The Fair Share Tax," Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today said that if Pittsburgh City Council agrees to slap a 1 percent levy on college tuition bills, "our financial recovery will be complete." (P-G, Rich Lord)
Also, your journey to the Dark Side.
University of Pittsburgh students would pay $135 a year, he said. "That's less than one-tenth of what Councilman [William] Peduto pays in property and wage taxes." (ibid)